jury’s still out…
I’ve paddled a couple different boats that use it. Performance is good. I think they’re looking for that elusive happy medium of performance and durability. It’s not the perf. of glass or other laminates (kevlar…) but its better than other plastics. Since the stuff’s only been out for a year or so now, its hard to say what long term durabilty will be. If you’re looking for a touring boat and its not going to see a LOT of abuse, get glass. That being said, I’ve got two plastic Dagger touring boats in my garage and it sure has been fun knocking 'em off of rocks in Superior and other places and not grimacing every time I do it…

If I remember correctly, Airlite is polycarbonate, or Lexan. Eddyline has been using it for several years. It seems to lie between fiberglass and polyethylene boats. The finish almost looks like fiberglass. The cost is between regular poly and fiberglass. I believe that the weight is in between them also. Not sure about durability. Eddyline now uses polycarbonate instead of gel coat over their fiberglass and kevlar.

so far so good
I don’t think Airalite is related to Lexan. They’re both thermoplastic polycarbonates, but Airalite is an ABS plastic (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene).

I paddle and Airalite Sonoma 13.5. So far it has held up great. Last week as I was ending my paddle at a boat ramp a small wave gave me an unexpected push so I hit the ramp before I had a chance to slow down. The bow dragged along the concrete a little wats but there was no visible damage.

Dagger is also introducing an Airalite kayak.

sure looks good…
…and seems to hold up well, perhaps less fragile than 'glass but holds its shape better than roto. You will love the lightness. It does scratch fairly easily.

I also have a Sonoma 13.5 and a Hurricane Santee. Although each manufacturer uses a different name (Eddyline calls it Carbonlite), I certainly can’t detect any diffo in a side-by-side comparison. There’s an ebay Hurricane dealer that insists their material is better than Perception’s, but does not elaborate on why. If their processes are slightly different, the end result is quite similar. My hull certificate calls it Royalite. I think many marques will soon offer “their own” versions.

I’d wait a year
if your intended use was coastal conditions and touring. For rec. use I don’t think it matters too much. Eddyline has the bugs worked out and I’d trust their production run because of it’s time in production and experience with the product. Perception is making a commodity with corporate interests moving things around,not to say they can’t make something good,it’s just that they have enough of a history of making things odd or marginal without acknowledging the problems. It’s one thing to make a small kayak like the Sonoma13 in thermoplastic and another to make a larger kayak that might actually get used in rough stuff. Big difference in consumer feedback between a rec. kayak and the user who might take their “sea kayak” camping. I don’t think an average big kayak will weigh much less in thermoplastic than fiberglass,if all the bugs are worked out of the seam technology or other new design details that’s great,but to put things in perspective the new Perception Avatar came out with chromed back band ratches (rust away in salt water), bungie deployed skeg that becomes non-functional,years of production with thick seat back in Sealion/Shadow/Eclipse that interfered with rescues (and corporate response was “we don’t have a problem”),rudder deployment line clips that act like cheese graters. The existing Perception quasi rec/touring boats like the Carolinas are much better designs,but the only thing I’d count on is that a new production Perception “sea kayak” looks right and hits the right price points.

I like the Sonoma13 a LOT,but wonder what happens in the Carolina/Eclipse design for a 200lb paddler in rough use. For the money I’d want to KNOW everything was as good or better than a less expensive rotomolded boat,not just new.

Airlite aka Carbonlite 2000
If I recall Mad River produced the Slipper solo canoe in “Carbonlite 2000” which I assume is Airlite or something similar back around 1990 or so. One member of our canoe club had one and it seemed pretty good except for the rumors of cold weather brittleness. I think MR only produced it for a year or two. We sell the Perceptions in Airlite at the outdoors store I work PT for. Nice and stiff, looks good, but no reports on durability yet from customers. I’m curious about the repairability of this material. How?

Fat Elmo